With that being said, let me self-promote: Maggie the Monkey (who I think is dead anyhow?) eat your heart out. How 'bout some respect!
I nailed the West. Two series dead on (Van in 7, Nsh in 6) and nearly got the Det sweep right. The east, I nailed two more (Bos in 7, Was in 5) and lost two...but lets face facts, I was one goal away from nailing the Sabres series in 6 and underestimated Tampa's resolve and got biased about Pens pop-gun offense. I'll take 6 of 8; especially when you came damn close on the other two you missed.
While I annoyingly toot my own horn here, let me go ahead and not only pick round 2, but the rest of the final 8 left standing all the way through. I am doing this for two reasons. First, picking each round gets old after a while and secondly I feel I can ride my hot picking hand (or maybe its just less interest now that the Pens are golfing - I'll let you decide). This is a lot less unstructured than the other picks, I am just ad libbing with this one. Here we go:
Perhaps an even better question in this series is who will be the goaltending hero? Will 41 year old Dwayne Roloson keep up his unrealistic play (although he's made a cup run out of nowhere before)? Which goaltending will show up for the Caps? For my money, I think Tampa is a more complete team right now and a nightmare matchup for the Caps. The Rangers had no offensive pop and still scored on Boudreau's "defensive" system. I feel that Tampa will exploit Washington's weak goaltending, as their top players are capable of filling the net up. Washington's offense will test Tampa's defense and Roloson, but I don't see the Caps being disciplined enough to break the 1-3-1. In sum, Tampa will win because of better coaching, more discipline, and enough goaltending and defense. They still have enough for the Pens/Caps double play; just like the Canadiens last year. Its like a carbon copy.
Here is what I think. I think that small market, new kid-on-the-NHL success block Nashville is getting no respect. I think the scene at Bridgestone Arena on Easter was that of an emerging franchise, one ready to put their brand on this year's playoffs and be the story we all remember. Its an intuition over logic. Vancouver is better in so many ways and has the record to show. But, I do think this is a nightmare matchup because the Weber/Suter pair will limit the Sedin twins and make them scared with their physicality. I do think the Canucks secondary scoring will struggle to beat Pekka Rinne. I do think there is something special about Nashville this season. Their espirit de corps and team makeup will beat the Canucks, that will play like a satisfied dog until they realize they are in a series.
Prediction: Nashville in 7
(Quick note: I stopped here and saved before game 1 - but I stick with my guns regardless)
#2 San Jose Sharks v. #3 Detroit Red Wings
At the end of the day, can 35 year Martin St. Louis keep playing 25 minutes a game? Can 41-year old Roloson keep stealing the show? Can the system persist all playoff long (i.e., the 1995 Devils) and win it all? Maybe, but I think not. Boston has too much size up front and will pound the slower Lightning defenders into submission. Boston wins, with a little bit of a fight.